BE STILL, MY SOUL written in 1899
About a hundred years after the time of Martin Luther (1483-1546), Europe was in bad shape. The continent was being racked by The 30 Years’ War, which pitted Catholics against Protestants. The Lutheran Church had lapsed into formalism and dead theology. People had stopped going to church.
Then God raised up what became known as the Pietist movement, a movement characterized by music, personal holiness, and missionary zeal. In the midst of this time of turmoil and discouragement, Katharina von Schlegel (1697-1798) noticed Psalm 46:10, which says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
As God spoke to her heart, she wrote this hymn. Whatever your circumstances, whatever your problems, you can find comfort in the great words of this hymn.
You may wonder why we are looking at this hymn in the 1890s instead of the 15th century. It is because we know this hymn by the tune written for it in 1899 by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). Jean was a Finnish composer and violinist. He is widely recognized as Finland’s greatest musician, and is often credited with helping Finland develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia.
The tune for this hymn almost sounds like classical music, and is as close to classical music as most church members get today!
Read this hymn, and – today – cause your soul to be still… and relax… in God.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
in every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
to guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the vale of tears,
then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
from His own fullness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
when we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
on earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
so shall He view thee with a well-pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.